People as connectors

Relationships have to start somewhere and require connections to be made between people, groups and organisations who may not have been connected in the past or whose relationships have been uneasy or in conflict. For example, the development of new housing can be a focus for conflict between organisations putting forward plans and people already settled in an area.

Equally there can be groups of citizens and micro-enterprises who want to progress mutual plans such as co-housing, self-build or a therapeutic community but do not know who to connect with to get things started.

Investment in people with the skills at fostering relationships and knowledge of a local area, services and population can be key to making progress in the development of cohesive communities, HAPPI and the lifetime homes (opens new window).

And with Covid-19 in mind, we have seen how making connections and sustaining relationships can be underpinned through the greater use of digital technology. From setting up WhatsApp groups to instant messaging.

One of the strengths of the Local Area Coordination (LAC) (opens new window) model is that it builds on the fact that in most communities there are individuals who know a lot about their locality and the services and groups active within it. These individuals enable a connection between people with mutual interests, knowledge and skills. The LAC approach is being developed in several areas of the UK and each belongs to a network.

A similar approach uses Community Connectors who link others in their local community with activities and organisations that can help improve their quality of life such as health services, community groups and organisations, social groups and activities.

“It brought issues up, made room for action, and now we know what to do that makes a difference.”

Alan, circle member

Case Studies

Local authorities may decide to employ project workers to increase the range of people who are engaged in discussions and action about local developments. Sometimes they will provide funds to a local voluntary group or community organisation to employ such connectors. This can be especially valuable in rural areas where the population is spread out and households can be less connected. For example, the employment of Rural Housing Enablers has been successful in various areas as a way to tackle shortages of affordable housing. 

Information about Rural Housing Enablers in North and East Yorkshire can be found in the HAPPI 4 report on page 24.